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City Council discusses commission recommendations for new station

Published: Apr. 6, 2021 at 10:24 PM CDT
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TOPEKA, Kan. (WIBW) - Topeka City Council members heard new recommendations for the city’s fire service, specifically how many stations they need.

The commission recommends building a new fire station on the city’s west side without closing any existing stations. It’s expensive and they said it could still leave gaps.

The city bought land on SW 6th street for a 13 fire station. It could take five to six years to build and cost $6-8 million.

At Tuesday’s City Council meeting, the Topeka Fire Station’s recommendations were discussed. The commission wants Topeka Fire to continue medical, fire and advanced life support (ALS) services wherever possible and have the station built in council district nine. They want to use additional personnel to staff it because they want to keep stations 1 and 11 open and fully staffed.

Councilwoman for District One Karen Hiller said, “There’s some sentiment that rather than wait five or six years to start talking about it maybe we should start penciling it out sooner and tackle it.”

She said by the time they were finished talking around the room, the issues were raised about going ahead and starting to lay out details of how they could work and the cost.

“Whether there could be partnership arrangements around the edges of the city, exactly how that could look,” she said.

Members discussed mutual aid efforts with county and other nearby fire stations. Hiller said it makes sense to continue utilizing nearby help while creating another station. That if they are going to re-open the issue of partnerships, then they should do it.

“Part of the detail the group so far apparently didn’t get into, was assessing what the likelihood of fires is based on the codes and construction of both the residences and the businesses that have developed on the edges of town. There are different likelihoods, different amounts of trips now in those different districts now,” she said. “So, really get down to the preverbal weeds, if you will, and say, okay how would this really work then.”

The commission also suggested another evaluation once the new station is built. Council-members pointed out the city currently has no fire stations located of SW 37th street.

“Personally I think it will help if we get very specific about what we’re going to do so that when we are in those conversations with ourselves and with our neighbors that we’re serious and it’s clear we want to get it settled and move on,” Hiller said.

Council-members said they were not against the recommendations and applauded the work that went into the list, but they did say a fire station needs to be built in the south part of the city.

The City Council normally meets on the first three Tuesdays of each month at 6 p.m. in the Council Chambers (municipal courtroom), 214 E. 8th. These meetings are cablecast live on the city’s governmental access Channel 4 on the Cox Cablevision Network. Replays are shown Wednesday at 1 p.m.; Saturday and Sunday at 9 a.m.

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